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Skid Steer Showdown: Tracks vs. Wheels – Which is Better for You?

Equipment Trader asked our social media audience which they prefer: skid steers with tracks or wheels. Here's what you had to say.
skid steer with wheels

Among the most popular heavy equipment for construction, landscaping, and agricultural projects, skid steers are dynamic machines for moving earth. While they’re extremely versatile, one crucial decision stands out when you make a purchase: tracks or wheels? Both options present unique advantages, but it depends on your line of work and the task at hand to make a well-informed decision when you buy. For more advice, Equipment Trader recently asked our Facebook audience, “When purchasing a skid steer, do you prefer tracks or wheels?” Here are some of your responses:

“Last year I went from wheels to tracks, and oh my I had no idea what I was missing out on all these years.”
–Keenen T.

“Depending on what you’re doing. Pushing snow, I will take a tire machine with chains over a track machine. Dirt work, it’s a horse apiece.”
–Justin B.

“Totally depends on your preference and what elements you plan to work it in.”
–Dakota C.

“Depends on what most of your work is. If you’re in the dirt and snow, you want tracks. If you’re on concrete and pavement a lot, you want tires.”
–Colin S.

Shop for new and used skid steers for sale online.

While it did seem like most of our audience responded that they prefer skid steers with tracks over wheels, many more equipment operators said that it really depends on your work conditions. If you’re still stumped and not sure which purchase is correct for you, there are a few factors to consider to help steer you in the right direction.

 

Mobility and Terrain Adaptability

Here’s a comparison and breakdown for skid steers with tracks and wheels and how they fare on different terrain, so keep this in mind as you shop.

Tracked Skid Steers

  • Superior Traction: Tracked skid steers excel on challenging terrains like mud, snow, and loose gravel since they’re designed with a continuous track for improved grip and stability to prevent the risk of getting stuck.
  • Less Ground Disturbance: The weight distribution over a larger surface area minimizes soil compaction and damage, which makes tracked skid steers ideal for work on lawns or finished landscapes.
  • Steeper Slopes: While you always need to be cautious when working on a slope or uneven ground, tracked skid steers can offer more stability than their wheeled counterparts.

Wheeled Skid Steers

  • Faster on Hard Surfaces: Wheeled skid steers can move faster on solid surfaces and handle with better maneuverability on firm, level ground like concrete, asphalt, or compact soil, which makes them ideal for urban construction or roadwork.
  • Less Maintenance: Wheels might require less skid steer maintenance when compared to tracks, which can be susceptible to wear and tear on rough and abrasive surfaces.
  • Lower Initial Cost: You can find wheeled skid steers on the market often at a lower initial asking price, which can make them a budget-friendly option if you’re just starting with a project.

 

Versatility and Attachment Compatibility

When you buy a skid steer, consider both its adaptability and compatibility with attachments on tracked or wheeled machines.

Tracked Skid Steers

  • Heavy-Duty Applications: With tracked skid steers you get greater stability and traction for heavy-duty tasks like excavation, forestry, and demolition, while they can handle larger attachments for demanding workloads.
  • All-Weather Performance: Tracks can give you better grip in adverse weather conditions, though you should still take precautions for work based on the severity of the elements.

Wheeled Skid Steers

  • Enhanced Maneuverability: Wheels allow for tighter turning and agile movement, which is a big plus when you’re working in a confined space and constantly making direction changes throughout the workday.
  • Easier Transportation: If you’re worried about logistical challenges and costs, wheeled skid steers can be lighter and easier to transport between jobs.

 

Operational Costs and Maintenance

Your buying decision may come down to the final price of a tracked or wheeled skid steer according to your budget, but you should also factor the cost of upkeep and replacement parts.

Tracked Skid Steers

  • Higher Operating Costs: A more complex undercarriage and premium tracks might require a higher price for maintenance repairs, and you might have more difficulty finding an exact replacement.
  • Fuel Efficiency: For long work days, tracked machines can consume more fuel while running on hard surfaces with increased friction and resistance.

Wheeled Skid Steers

  • Maintenance Savings: Since wheels can be more durable and easier to replace, you could end up saving money on repair costs over time.
  • Fuel Savings: If you’re working on firm surfaces for days on end, wheeled skid steers can be a fuel-efficient option and reduce operational costs.

 

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Skid steer owners have their preferences based on their work environment, but when buying, consider factors like terrain, project requirements, and overall budget. This will help you slim down the selection on the market to pick out the perfect machine for your labor. Start shopping today for new and used heavy machinery on the nation’s leading marketplace at Equipment Trader.

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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

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